To my colleagues in the industry and the general public seeking housing in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Recently I was contacted by a nice person who left me a voicemail saying, “I’m inquiring about 333 Cherry Street, thanks for responding to my email…I just wanted to ask a couple more follow up questions before I commit to signing the document and sending you over thousands of dollars…”

This voicemail is not the scam, but this is:


Here is the post on Padmapper (which I assume will be pulled soon), so don’t be surprised if the link is broken. The text in the post reads:

333 Cherry Street Apt #B, San Francisco, CA 94118 – 0 BR 1 BA Condo. Listing uploaded and marketed by Alexander Clark, Thefrontsteps, 1(415) 477-1100. This garden studio condominium is located in the rear of a small three-unit Victorian building overlooking a deck and landscaped garden. It has been renovated with beautiful finishes, including a sleek kitchen, spacious bathroom and built-in cabinetry. Located in the heart of Presidio Heights, this home is in one of San Francisco?s most desirable neighborhoods near the Presidio National Park…

That’s the bait. Here is the email sent after this person inquired:

Hello [Name],

This is to acknowledge your e-mail. Let me answer to your questions as follows:

Q- What’s included in the furnishings?
A- Everything you see in the pictures displayed online.

Q- Do you have any additional pictures (videos) of the unit?
A- No, there are no additional pictures for this unit.

The unit is not available for viewing this week as you have requested, because the current tenant’s lease ends next weekend(It is impossible to take all prospective tenant for viewing when the lease has not ended).The open house is on the 29 & 30 of this month between 2:30pm – 4pm(refer to my last email); also the move in date is May 3,2018 or after so you can come view the unit any of those days. Regarding to your request, the unit is available for short and long term lease, there is washer/Dryer in the unit and parking for 1 car included in the rent.

Please understand that the rental market in San Francisco is competitive so the unit is on high demand, so if you are really interested in this apartment I will advise you secure it now so that you do not lose it to other prospective tenants who have contacted me also. Like I said before who secures it first gets the unit; To lock down the unit you will have to deposit only the first month’s rent plus the refundable security deposit after completing all the relevant rental documents. Note that if you choose to reserve the unit now, and if after you have viewed the unit that you are in anyway not satisfied, you can request for a refund which will be given to you that same instant. The terms and conditions of the contract gives you full refund if you do not want the apartment upon viewing.

Lease Plans and available discount:

– 3 months upfront payment attract discount of 5% on the total rent.
– 6 months upfront payment attract discount of 10% on the total rent.
– 12 months upfront payment attract discount of 10% on the total rent.

Download Rental Application Form attached below fill out all necessary fields; Return back to me by e-mail attachment or fax along with a copy of your ID, and as soon as I receive your filled application form I shall forward the lease contract agreement for your review of the terms and conditions. I am 100% confident that if you like what you saw online, you will surely go ahead and take the unit because the pictures represent the true and present condition of the unit.

I will await your earliest response so that we can proceed with the securing of the apartment for your lease duration.

My Regards,
Alexander Clark
Tel:415-477-1100

Bogus! All of it.

And here is their follow up to this person’s extra questions. :

I understand your concern and will send the landlord’s bank detail for you to make the reservation payment now but you have to send in your application and also append your signature to the lease contract before I can issue your reservation receipt to you tomorrow.

Send the reservation deposit which consists of the first month’s rent ($2,050) and the refundable security deposit($2500) which totals $4550 only to the landlord’s bank account details below:

Bank Details

Bank Name: Wells Fargo

Account Name: Michael Jones

Account Number: 5525124219

Routing Number: 061000227

Beneficiary Address: 1201 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94158.

Remember to send me the bank transfer receipt after payment for my record purposes.

Regards,
Crooks of epic proportion

I hope everyone takes a look at this post, forwards it, watches out for it, and these jerks get caught. I doubt they will get caught, but at the very least Realtors everywhere need to watch out for this kind of activity. If anyone has any further information on the matter, or similar experience, or questions, please reach out to me, or feel free to comment below.

Sincerely,
the Real Alexander Clark

5 comments

  1. This seems to be a common scam. I first learned about it a couple years ago when a friend was looking for an apartment and asked me to vet a listing that sounded too good to be true. In that case (and perhaps this one?) the scammer reused the address and photos of an condo that had just sold (which is how I figured it out: I found the listing on Redfin).

    Googling for “sf rental scam” turns up tons of articles about the practice, but it’s apparently common elsewhere as well. Here’s an article on Snopes with a scam email from 2009:

    https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/rental-scam/

    And here’s a page on the FTC’s website with suggestions for what to do:

    https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0079-rental-listing-scams

  2. The guy is still at it. Now claiming his name is “Bernard Greening.” Same phone number. Same open housetime. Different apartment, but Same scam.

    Thanks for the heads up.

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